Digital media owners expect to continue to increase staff numbers throughout 2013, with developers and analysts now topping the recruitment priority list ahead of ad sales for the first time, according to research released by the Association of Online Publishers (AOP).
The number of respondents expecting to take on new staff rose by three per cent on last year's survey to 62 per cent. As well as recruiting new staff, almost two thirds of employers said investing in analytical skills of staff was a priority. Investment in advertising operations skills was planned by 58 per cent, while just over half expected to develop skills in ad sales and editorial.
Tim Cain, head of research and insight at the AOP, said: "Digital media owners are still investing in editorial and ad sales but they clearly think future growth will be driven by technology.
"Right now, it's all about analytics and data, which bears out the AOP's predictions in September after our content and trends census. I think these numbers give a good indication of the future shape and look of the digital media industry."
The research found mobile and apps were the main area of investment for 79 per cent of respondents, with responsive design pinpointed by 71 per cent and data by 68 per cent. Media owners expected collaboration with other publishers on technology would increase, with 85 per cent reporting they either planned to or already were working with others to "avoid duplication and offset the high cost of investment".
"Technology is proving a key focus for driving revenue growth but it is increasingly a major challenge," said AOP chairman, John Barnes. "Digital media owners must deliver a consistent, top-quality user experience with full content engagement across multiple devices and platforms, where the commercial model for each individual channel does not automatically offer a return on the required investment.
"Improving reader revenues and revenues from assets such as data is going to help," added Barnes.
The fifth annual Organisation Census reported the outlook was positive for the remainder of the year, with members expecting digital revenue growth of 15 per cent and and 88 per cent increasing investment in technology, a rise of 10 per cent from the previous year.